I went to a beauty school yesterday for a haircut. This is another one of those situations that is a little stressful for me. My anxiety begins when I know I’m getting my haircut. This can begin as early as two days prior to scissors coming anywhere near my head. It really has to do with what the hairdresser will think of me: Do they consider me gross? Are they totally grossed out because I didn’t wash my hair or because I kind of let myself go, hairwise? Do I have huge chunks of earwax that I don’t even know about? Are they disgusted even touching me because I might smell like old lady since I live alone so my house always smells like old vegetable stew?
I finally work up enough nerve to go. I think it’s a very bold move to let a student touch your hair. I should consider this an act of charity on the student but for some reason I think it’s a punishment. I always feel like they think they’re better than me and I can’t tell them differently because they have sharp objects moving very fast all around my head. If they screw up, I’m wearing hats for the next eight months. I know this because of the horrible Great Clips Incident of 1997. And no, I don’t want to talk about it.
So I go knowing that this could easily and possibly go really, really wrong. But still I go.
The school is located in what used to be the Huck’s Convenience Store where I would go to buy my candy on my lunch breaks in high school. (Seriously, this candy thing goes way back.)
The first thing I notice as I open the same door that lead me to my daily dose of cherry Nibs is the odor that thrusts itself up my nasal passages and almost makes me cry. I walk up to the desk.
“So do I just sign in?” I ask the desk lady.
“Yeah,” (Nice to meet you, Chatty Cathy.)
“Ok…let’s see, it’s eleven thirty and–WOW that is pungent,” I say, unable to exhale the smell from my nostrils.
“What?” (I’m sorry, do you speak in sentences or just blurt one word answers out?)
“That smell. How do you guys stand that all day without getting sick?”
“I don’t smell anything,” says Chatty Cathy, looking over at the Silent Bob who has now sidled up beside her, “What does it smell like?”
“Perm.” (Two can play at the one word answer, lady.)
“Oh that,” she says, leaving “that” hanging as if she’s going to say more but decides that I don’t deserve any more explanation because of my lowly station in life.
I stand there for a minute, lowering my chin as I wait for her to finish, then realize that she IS finished so I turn on my heels and go sit in the waiting area. The waiting area is almost smaller than a normal sized public restroom stall. I just sit down when I hear them discussing me as if I’m not four feet away.
“Jenn,” says Chatty, not calling me but not saying it low enough so that I can’t hear.
“Jenn?” says a short slim girl who I swear is only thirteen years old.
I get up and walk towards her as we exchange smiles. She asks me if I want her to wash my hair.
“I didn’t wash it today so..” I trail off, assuming she would pick up my cue and lead me to a basin.
“OK,” says Slim, as she points me towards her station. Apparently my hair will not be washed today unless I wash it when I go home.
I sit down as she goes off somewhere, not saying a word. I look around and make eye contact with this elderly woman who looks ridiculous sitting across the room with foil sticking out all over her head as if she’s trying to contact the mother ship. We hold each other’s glance just long enough as if to say,
“You’re a bold woman taking your chances here. I wish you luck.” We both silently applaud each other’s bravery.
Slim returns with a tiny maroon cape. She drapes it around my neck in a way that makes me feel secure in her abilities. I mean, if she can drape that professionally, I’m in good hands…right?
I’m not good at making decisions, especially when it comes to my hair because I have absolutely no sense of style. If the person that was cutting my hair told me that the mullet was coming back, I’m scared that there would be a slight chance that I might let them give me one. So the conversation always goes like this:
Slim: So…what are we doing today? (Technically it is “we” because we’re both involved but I don’t plan on actively participating. That being said, if a hairdresser ever said, ” So what am I doing today?” it might startle me as to whether or not they even knew where they were.)
Me: I just want it cut shoulder length.
Slim: Just straight across or with layers?
Me: What do most people do?
Me: Yeah…let’s do that then. (Again, “let’s” as in “we” because if I just say DO THAT THEN, I’m kind of being bossy. Scissors close to head, remember?)
She doesn’t waste any time, just starts frantically clipping away at my hair after the obligatory, ’tilt your head down for me”.
This is where things go one of two ways: I either get someone working on my hair who can’t or won’t shut up and I worry that they’re not focused enough, or I get one that over-focuses on my hair and won’t say a word, making me extremely uncomfortable in the silence.
Yesterday I got the latter. I sat still and quiet for as long as was possible (for me) because I don’t want to force anyone to talk to me.
But the silence makes me nervous and when I’m nervous (or have too much caffeine or am manic) I.can’t.shut.up. This is why I would not be a good witness at a trial because I’d go in as a witness and nervously talk my way into being the prime suspect.
So I start the conversation.
Me: So do these hours count as credits?
Slim: Yeah. (Snip. Snip. Cut. Cut. FOCUS.)
Me: How long does it take to get your degree?
Slim: If you go full-time eleven months. If you go part-time, sixteen.
Me: Wow (long dead pause) So do they have job placement services?
It is then that I give up because I am failing miserably. Job placement services? Really? That’s the best I could come up with? Why didn’t she say “Um…yeah, they have job placement services. They tell you to go to a hair place to get a job yourself.”
I sit quietly for the rest of the cut, which takes about ten more minutes. They are the longest minutes of my life. I don’t utter a word. But I am still nervous.
If this had been the Casey Anthony trial, I would have been found guilty.